Earlier this year Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver, Andy Kohlberg and ex-NBA star Steve Nash were part of a group which took control of Real Mallorca. The new CEO brought in to take charge of the day-to-day running of the club was one-time Brighton midfielder-turned-football law expert Maheta Molango.
As fans will know, the change in ownership did not bring about a drastic change in the side’s fortunes. They only just avoided relegation, but Molanga told the Bulletin this week that last season is now all behind them now and that the owners have been planning for the new season since they took over back in January.
"In an ideal world we should obviously be aiming for a return to the top flight this season, but we are being realistic. We are in this for the long haul and right now we’re not getting obsessed with going up. We’re keeping a ‘low profile’, if you like. Our first and immediate aims are to put together a well-balanced team which is going to be highly competitive and difficult to beat and uncomfortable to play against. We want teams to be scared of coming to play against us at home.
"And ending the season in a top position - those are our aims right now. What we also want is 90 per cent unity in the dressing room and at the club: that is extremely important nowadays. We want the guys to get along and want to play for each other. Self belief and confidence, just look at what Wales did at the European Championships and at Leicester, a club I have a close relation with, in winning the Premier League.
"If the mindset is right in the dressing room and on the pitch, anything is possible," he said before jetting out to join the side at their pre-season training camp in Holland.
"With the new squad, we are looking to mix experience with spirit, the willingness to fight and be competitive. We’ve brought in some talent from Valencia and Malaga and we’re mixing that up with some of the young talent which has come through our excellent academy. For the first time ever, we have a team of scouts - five in total, one dedicated to the UK - and yes, if we find the right player at the right price in the UK, we will do our best to sign him up. Football is an expensive game over there, but we’re on the lookout all the time.
"In fact, Real Mallorca now has one of the best scouting teams in Spain, better than some of La Liga clubs and that is very similar to the UK where even the likes of Aston Villa have 20 scouts looking for new talent all the time and that is important. You’ve got to watch a player play ten times or more before a decision can be really made, and that’s what our scouts are currently doing. So, yes, things are definitely changing and have changed.
"The club has a proper structure now and, while I can bring my experience from having played in the UK and Europe to the club, the owners can bring their US know-how from the NBA and sport in the USA in general, so there’s a whole new synergy going on at the club. It’s much more professional, much more aggressive, on and off the pitch, and we’re all deeply committed to this long-term project which we want the whole of Majorca, whatever their nationality, to be involved in.
"I loved the passion, the fun and the excitement British football fans used to bring to the matches - they really understand football, they live for it - it was an event, an afternoon or evening out for die-hard fans and the whole family, and that is what we want to see at Real Mallorca. We want a much closer connection between the fans and the players.
"I know there is a UK/Majorca fan club here and fans who regularly come from the UK to watch games. We want to build on that. We are really looking at the British community to help us on this new journey.
"We did have talks before the summer, at the end of last season, about bringing in a general assistant for coach Fernando Vazquez. We have been looking at a few candidates and perhaps, once the team returns from Holland, we may make an appointment, but only if it is the right person. We’ve also got to make the decision if we bring someone from outside the region or take on a local. We shall see, but yes, it’s an issue we are addressing as we speak.
"Just as we are the with idea of purchasing tickets. To be honest when we arrived, it was all rather outdated. It’s unheard of nowadays that you have to go to the ground to get your tickets, so we’re developing online sales and booking strategies and are also looking at selling tickets at hotels and other key outlets around the island to make it more attractive and easier for people to get to the games.
"We also intend to have Real Mallorca merchandise much more prominent around the island, in key stores so people become more accustomed to seeing shirts and scarves etc., to remind them that we have a football club and encourage them to come along. You’ve seen how we’ve already been out and about around the island presenting our new players and some of the existing team. We’ve been to Sa Pobla, Valldemossa, the Cathedral, it’s all part of our drive to connect with the general public more, create a closer bond.
"This is going to be a different club. The new owners were quick to realise what a great product Real Mallorca is, but it didn’t have the right infrastructure and was not being sold professionally. We are creating a new sporting entity where the emphasis is obviously going to be on football and winning."
And, with the ticket offices open for people wishing to purchase season tickets, the response has been encouraging. For the coming season prices have been frozen at last year’s prices and, if a season ticket holder attends over 85 per cent of the games and Real Mallorca win promotion to La Liga, their season ticket for next season - 2017/2018 - will be free.
So, why not start out on this new sporting journey now, become a season ticket holder and think about the possible reward you will enjoy if Real Mallorca return to La Liga this season.
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